If you’re thinking my blog title means my visit to Florence resembled a modern-day, Italian version of the iconic James Bond flick, “From Russia with Love,” you’ll be disappointed. And trust me, no one would have been more excited than me to be uncovering Soviet secrets with Sean Connery circa 1960—who am I kidding, Sean Connery in 2011 would suffice. But alas, no James Bond, no Soviet spies and no PPK’s (it’s probably just as well, I wasn’t properly dressed for an MI6 mission anyways); just a beautiful ancient city filled with infamous art, beautiful churches and the best purses you’ve ever seen—and that was certainly enough for me.
Florence, often referred to as the art capital of the world, certainly lives up to its name. And who better to introduce me to Florence than David—that would be Michelangelo’s David, of course. The 17 foot tall statue was my first stop in Florence. I’ll let you know that I did not cave and take a highly illegal photo of the masterpiece like so many of the other rule breaking tourists, but I did spend a good 10 minutes just staring at it. It’s hard not to be awestruck by such an infamous statue, one that began when Michelangelo was only 25 years old. Kind of makes you feel like you’ve done nothing with your life, right?
Other stops in Florence included the Piazza della Signoria, Piazza della Reppublica, the Duomo, and of course, the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi boasts a collection of nearly 5,000 of the most important art works in the world. I’ll be honest, after growing up going to The Metropolitan Museum of Art multiple times a year, I figured the novelty of some of the artwork I would see would be wasted on me a bit; but I was definitely mistaken. I may frequent the Degas and Monet exhibits at The Met, but none of that compares to seeing Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and “Primavera,” or Da Vinci’s “Annunciation,” or even Michelangelo’s “Doni Tondo.” It’s hard to stroll through the 25 room museum and not wonder what a miracle it is that all of these masterpieces have survived.
After a day filled with art and culture, sometimes a girl just wants to shop, especially when you’re surrounded by the finest leather products in the world—and surrounded is an understatement. Giant markets filled the streets of Florence with vendors selling everything from leather handbags and belts to gloves and jackets. After thoroughly sifting through all of the vendors, I found the perfect leather bag; one I’m sure I’ll have forever. Satisfied with our purchases, my roommate and I made our way across the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace and eventually the Piazza Michelangelo. The Piazza Michelangelo is atop a giant hill overlooking the whole city—and it is not for the faint of heart. The daunting, steep steps to the top are enough to deter even the most energetic travelers. The tired 20-year-old in me told me to google it when I got home, however, the aerobics instructor in me told me to use my large muscle groups and trek on up, so that’s what I did. And the view was definitely worth it. My favorite part of Italy is that no matter where you are, a view always includes mountains in the distance—it always reminds me of some sort of Von Trapp family photo.
Florence, once again, is another Italian city that I have fallen unexpectedly in love with (I’m sensing a theme here). Maybe it’s the cheap house wine, or the extraordinary art, or the exquisite leather handbag, or maybe even the homemade ravioli with basil, but Florence is quickly moving up my list of favorite places.